This year’s Franklin County Fair queen, Andi Placht, 17, of New Haven, has a way with words — which was evident when she also won the exemplary essay contest.
Placht, the daughter of William and Barbara Placht, edged out nine other competitors to win the crown Thursday, July 11, opening night of the Fair.
“This is amazing,” Placht said after the competition. “It was a great bunch of girls. I can’t replace this experience for anything.”
A 2013 graduate of Washington High School, Placht plans to attend the University of Missouri-Columbia this fall. She will major in animal sciences and plans to become a large animal veterinarian.
Placht has been a member of the New Haven 4-H Club for the last 10 years and was in the Washington FFA Chapter for four years.
The queen was sponsored by TG Brinkmann Concrete, LLC, Lifelike Creations Taxidermy, Rustic Creations Taxidermy and Brinkmann Building, Inc.
Placht was awarded a bouquet, sash, crown donated by Kaylin and Kevin Bade, a sterling silver necklace, white gold bracelet, diamond earrings, a diamond pendant necklace sponsored by Altemueller Jewelry, and a $1,000 scholarship.
Dave Hileman, 4-H Youth specialist for the University of Missouri Extension and the evening’s emcee, said this year’s group of girls was special.
“I’ve had the pleasure of working with the girls in this contest for the past 25 years,” Hileman said. “This has been another really good year with a great group of girls.”
The first runner-up is Stephanie Holdmeyer, Washington, the 17-year-old daughter of Alex and Diane Holdmeyer.
Holdmeyer is a member of the Campbellton Livestock 4-H Club. She will be a senior at St. Francis Borgia Regional High School this fall.
“I was not expecting this,” she said. “I feel really honored.”
Holdmeyer was sponsored by Nieder Fabricating Solutions.
She also received a bouquet, sash, crown, earrings and a necklace and a $700 scholarship.
Wearing a camouflage dress, Kristy Cox of Robertsville was named the second runner-up.
Cox is the 17-year-old daughter of Sam and Pam Williams. She is a member of the Maverick 4-H Club and the St. Clair FFA Chapter.
She will be a senior at St. Clair High School this fall.
“I’m very excited that I won,” Cox said. “I’m glad that people are going to be able to look up to me through the Fair and for 4-H and FFA.”
Cox was sponsored by Dustin Laur, Dents “R” Us, and W.B. Construction.
She received a bouquet, sash, crown, necklace and a $500 scholarship.
Kayla Vondera, Union, was named Miss Congeniality. The title is voted on by the contestants.
“It feels great,” she said. “I appreciate being well liked and that (the other contestants) voted for me.”
Vondera said she enjoyed getting to know girls from other schools.
A recent graduate of Union High School, she will attend East Central College in the fall.
Vondera is a member of the Go Hog Wild 4-H Club and the Union FFA Chapter. She was sponsored by Wimpy’s Sandwich Shop.
She received a bouquet, a crown, sash, white gold necklace sponsored by Altemueller Jewelry and a $250 scholarship.
The bouquets were sponsored by Watson’s Florist.
The queen contestants were judged on their resumes, which included citizenship and leadership, an essay, interview with the judges and stage presence, which included answering a question.
Forty percent of the score is from the girls’ citizenship and leadership resumes. The essay is 10 percent of their score.
An additional 30 percent is from the contestant’s interview with the judges and the final 20 percent is from Thursday night’s contest.
In preparation for the contest, the girls participated in several activities, including a queen tea, Fair Queen 101, where the girls practice different aspects of the contest, and a day in St. Louis where the contestants promoted the Fair on “Show Me St. Louis.”
They also participated in the first ever Franklin County Fair parade and sold season passes.
The contestants participated in a community service project, in which they collected items for the food pantry.
In addition to the food, one of the girls took it upon herself to collect baby clothes for residents in Moore, Okla., who experienced a tornado.
Another collected school supplies that were donated to St. Clair High School, Robertsville Elementary School and Lonedell Elementary School. One of the girls collected donations for Exceptional Equestrians.
Loving Hearts Outreach and the Union Food Pantry received donated food items.
In total, the candidates collected 5,514 items, a record for the contest.
Cox was presented with the Elizabeth Harashe Community Service award for collecting the most items. She received a sterling silver necklace sponsored by Altemueller Jewelry. Cox collected 2,906 items.
This year’s judges were Linda Beckley, St. Clair; Rob Cardwell, Fenton; and Julie Carey, Sullivan.
Placht, who won the exemplary essay contest, read her essay to the crowd. The topic was on the future of agriculture.
She received sterling silver earrings sponsored by Altemueller’s Jewelry.
The top ticket seller was Elizabeth Birkmann, who sold over $1,000 in season passes.
She received sterling silver earrings, also sponsored by Altemueller Jewelry.
As a whole, the contestants sold $2,155 in season passes.
During the competition, the retiring Fair queen, Cassy Jo Aholt, shared her experience of participating in the Missouri State Fair.
“It was hard work,” she said. “It was honestly the best thing I’ve ever gone to and competed in.”
Aholt said it has been an honor and a privilege being the queen. She said she gained confidence and leadership skills.
“To a lot of people this is just a beauty pageant where you come up and look pretty and smile, and that’s all you do,” she said. “It’s not. It’s all about inner beauty, what you can do and what you have done for your community.”
Aholt encouraged the girls to be themselves, be sincere in everything they do and to do things to the best of their ability.
“If you do things to the best of your ability, there is nothing to be ashamed of or regret,” she said.
Other contestants included Dayeana Shell, Beaufort, Union FFA, daughter of Tracie Shell and John Lucas;
Jordan Adams, Catawissa, Union FFA, daughter of Patricia Adams;
Elizabeth Birkmann, Union, Jeffriesburg 4-H Club and Union FFA, daughter of Christine and Bill Birkmann;
Ellen Herring, Union, Jeffriesburg 4-H Club and Union FFA, daughter of Matt and Brenda Herring;
Sarah Hubbard, Union, Union FFA, daughter of Ella Ledbetter; and
Melissa Keeven, New Haven, Krakow 4-H Club and Washington FFA, daughter of Larry and Sarah Keeven.
Queen committee members include Hileman, Danielle Goodman, chair, Barb Stumpe, Danette Stumpe, Trina Stumpe, Danette Stumpe, Cassy Jo Aholt and Ariana Vieth, retiring first alternate.